The Telegraph Museum (Museo del Telégrafo) opened in 2006. The main objective is to present and understand the history of telecommunications in Mexico. The museum shares a building with the National Museum of Art. This is appropriate as the building came into being as the National Palace of Communications.
One of the first countries in the world to widely use the telegraph, the history begins in 1849. Instant communications became an essential tool for governments and companies with interests across broad geographical spaces. In the digital era of media and communication, it’s interesting to go back to the basics. Imagine your own life without a mobile phone and you begin to see the situation of Mexican people communicate across broad landscapes in the 19th and 20th centuries.
- Though his name means, “from the farm,” Juan de la Granja (1785-1853) was a diplomat and businessman. Born in Spain, he found the chaos there to be incompatible with his ambitions. (See Tolsa’s Caballito for more.) He arrived in Mexico in 1814 at the twilight of New Spain. As things got more complicated for subjects of the Spanish crown, he left for the United States within a few years.
- Granja eventually became a Mexican consulate in New York. He returned to Mexico in 1846 as US-Mexican diplomatic relations ended. By the end of that war, he was awarded a contract to install telegraph lines throughout the country. That first telegraph line, to the town of Nopalucan in the state of Puebla received its first transmission in 1851. In 1853, Granja died and was buried in the San Fernando Cemetary. And Nopalucan in Puebla had it’s name changed to Nopalucan de la Granja, in his honor.
- The team of government telegraph operators, established under Porfiro Díaz, and still using Morse Code, was disbanded only in 1992.
The Telegraph Museum offers free admission and it’s in the midst of many other attractions. The entirety of Calle Tacuba attractions can be seen here.